It’s medieval Spain, at the
height of the inquisition, and the son of a local duke has just been
accused of being the son of the devil. Imprisoned and awaiting goodness
knows what, your first task is to escape. The pig and the body thrown
into the cell with you will no doubt be useful.
Then we find ourselves in an
apartment in modern day Paris, John Yesterday sitting on the bed, his
girlfriend Pauline pattering around in the bathroom. Playing each of
them at will, your day begins to unfold, but not until Pauline deals
with a bad case of wrinkles in a sequence that I found a highlight of
the game and which helps ground you in what might have come before.
If you have read earlier GB
reviews, you will likely know that I am a fan of Pendulo games. By and
large they are brightly animated comedic point and click fun. The one
that was a little different was Yesterday, the precursor to this game,
for which you need to change the word ‘comedic’ to ‘dark’ in the
description. The rest though was still apt.
You need to change (and add) a
few more for Yesterday Origins.
‘Brightly coloured’ still
applies. It’s a tale of satanic rituals, the son of the devil and some
torture, so ‘dark still’ applies. ‘Point and click applies’, but in a
somewhat qualified way. Let me explain.
You do point and click, and
everything is done with the mouse. The game starts however by saying it
is best played with a controller, and I expect that is correct.
Certainly the mouse seems awkward when doing some things, not least when
exploring the close up windows. These might be of objects or people;
click on a bookshelf for instance and you will zoom in on a small part,
portrayed in a separate pop up window, and you will need to hold and
drag the mouse to move your field of vision around the shelf in order to
explore the whole thing. It’s the same with people, whereby you can
examine details about them, most not important but some very.
You might also have to ‘push’ or
‘pull’ the mouse to rotate an object, or to move around it to see other
important aspects of it. You can miss key items or hotspots by failing
to thoroughly explore these close ups.
The mouse movement to manipulate
an object can be a little clumsy, but it was generally sluggish, meaning
lots of swipes and drags and pushes to thoroughly explore. In my view,
these scenes would have been better manipulated incorporating the W A S
D keys, suggesting a controller would definitely have improved things.
If the item is large, dragging
it around to examine it seemed conceptually reasonable, and the game
will focus on and highlight an important part of the object as you
examine it. That was a helpful aspect, making fastidious examination a
lot easier than it might have been. However if the item is small, like
the phone on the hotel room table, selecting it should have been enough.
However you first get a close up of the phone, which you then have to
drag slightly in order to get the game to focus on the hotspot that
makes using the phone active. It seemed unnecessarily fussy.
I did though like the concept of
these pop-up windows. It added a bit of a comic book feel to things, and
enabled the generally fairly wide shots of the game world to be broken
down and presented in more detail. It was just the mechanics I wasn’t so
There is also an awful lot of
pointing and clicking, especially if all the conversation trees are
thoroughly exhausted. Not all are necessary, but add detail and depth,
but some are necessary triggers, opening up other dialogue or providing
an important “information” icon (more on that later). Somewhat oddly,
there are times when the available responses or comments appear to be
alternatives to the same situation, yet choosing one still leaves the
others available, while at other times, choosing one removes another
(e.g. threaten him, calm him). By and large though, it is well
delivered, and the intricacies of the plot, spread across time, make it
all worth listening to/reading. Even more so, there are insights to be
gained into the characters themselves, and the relationships between
them, John and Pauline in particular.
I didn’t think the interface was
terribly user friendly either, but that might have just been me. You
need to choose a hotspot in the game world first, after which clicking
on an inventory item might utilise said item. I kept trying to click or
drag items first, and while I got the hang of it, I never really got
used to it.
You can combine inventory items,
but there were times when I wanted to combine two objects, but that
would only work if I picked the objects in the right order. That makes
gameplay sense if, e.g., you are putting things in a bucket (therefore
needing the bucket to first be chosen), but not in other situations.
While it might have seemed obvious to put the items together, it added
to the unfriendliness of the interface.
Some solves need more than just
an item, or combination of items, to be used. You learn things which
produce little information icons, which can be used with a hotspot just
like an inventory item. A question mark appearing alongside a close up
window might suggest some information is important.
You are reasonably contained in
terms of the number of screens you have to access at one time. This
isn’t a giant open world, but there is usually a fair bit to do in the
particular set of screens you have at any one time. Doing it is the
stock in trade of the puzzling, and like all such games, some solves are
convoluted to say the least. What I found more difficult at times was
not having found the particular trigger to move things along; I can
recommend exploring thoroughly, which you probably already knew. There
are a few out and out puzzles, a couple which you solve by using your
information icons, one or two you solve the old fashioned way (e.g.
rotating the segments on a cylinder to enter a combination).
The backstory of John and
Pauline is intriguing, and the details you should discover for yourself.
As is intimated above, the plot leaps back and forth between worlds 500
years apart, and while a tad fanciful it is a rather good and dark
thriller, with tinges of comedic relief. There is some language and some
grown up concepts, but nothing I found gratuitous.
While in the early scenes you
can flit between playing John and Pauline, you are usually one or the
other, and generally John. They are his Origins after all.
The look is everything you would
expect from Pendulo, bright and detailed, 3D characters on hand drawn
backgrounds, punctuated by some excellent cutscenes and visual
presentations which add to the comic book feel. Character modelling is
quirkily angular, and while I wasn’t sure John sounded exactly like he
looked, voice acting and the other auditory aspects are top notch.
It saves as you go, very
frequently, and you just pick up where you left off. You can also choose
to load earlier save points.
While I never warmed to the
interface, there is a lot to like in Yesterday Origins. Perhaps do
yourself a favour and use a game controller when you play.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz
RAM: 32GB GDDR5
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 470 8192MB
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